If you are a frequent visitor to the annual International Folk Art Market (IFAM), which takes place on Museum Hill from Friday, July 12, through Sunday, July 14, you may have noticed that the United States is always conspicuously absent. The reason: Most of the 150 artists visiting from abroad rarely get the opportunities that U.S. artists have to sell their work, said Stuart Ashman, the market’s chief executive officer. And with the huge number of applicants (about 700 this year), U.S. artists hoping to be included would balloon the number of applications by thousands, he added.

This year, though, IFAM has Americans represented in the mix. Ashman and IFAM’s executive committee decided to ask the School for Advanced Research and each of the museums on the Museum Hill campus — the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, the Museum of International Folk Art, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art — to select an artist for inclusion.

“It’s outside of our normal selection process, but it’s vetted by the museums and the School for Advanced Research,” Ashman said, adding that the artists will share one double or triple booth at the market, next to the UNESCO booth. “We’ve been doing the market on Museum Hill for 16 years, and this is a recognition that those institutions can participate as well.”

Anthony Belvado

Musical instrument maker from San Carlos, Arizona

Style: traditional

Price range: $400 and up

Apache artist Anthony Belvado is well versed in the artistic traditions of drawing and painting, having studied art at Haskell Indian Junior College (now Haskell Indian Nations University) in Kansas, and at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. But it’s for his preservation of a little-known folk tradition of musical instrument-making that brings him to IFAM. Belvado is one of only a handful of Apache artists still making the tsíí’ edo’a’tl, or Apache fiddle. Dating to the 19th century and possibly adapted from fiddles or violins brought over from Europe, the Apache fiddle is a unique instrument. While it contains elements common to European varieties — such as a bridge, tuner, and string holder — it’s made from materials on hand. Belvado makes his out of agave stalks, which he splits and hollows. The strings and bows are made of horsehair. Belvado learned how to make them from his grandfather. Belvado’s instruments, which look nothing like their European counterparts, are vibrantly painted with traditional Apache designs. Invited by The School for Advanced Research

Belvado on completing his first Apache fiddle under his grandfather’s guidance: “Everything looked perfect. ... I decided to try to play it. When I drew my bow across the string, there was no sound whatsoever. It was puzzling to me. I remember thinking, I did whatever he said to do, but no sound. I approached him and told him my situation and there was a smile on his face at first, then a big old giggle. Afterward, he told me what was missing: resin. Pine pitch. Just like a modern fiddle. I went up to the mountains and got what he said to get and put it on the string. A sound came out and you should have seen me jump up and down with joy.”

Billy Ray Hussey

Ceramicist from Bennett, North Carolina

Style: innovative

Price range: $25 to several thousand dollars

A self-taught artist who learned by observation, Hussey’s first experiences with Southern pottery traditions began when he was 12 years old. It was a family business, but the budding potter, who makes all manner of utilitarian pots and jugs, as well as humorous and whimsical sculptures, dreamed of playing professional baseball. “Willie Mays was my superhero back in the ’60s and ’70s,” he said. “He was the best of the best.”

Hussey, who grew up in the pottery hotspot of Seagrove, North Carolina, uses time-honored glazes that he fires in a wood-fueled kiln. Invited by the Museum of International Folk Art

Hussey on his process: “I use ash glazes, salt glaze, clay slip glazes, lead glazes, alkaline glazes, and glass glazes, so it’s quite a diversity. My shop is filled with five-gallon buckets everywhere. I can be working on one thing and my mind is flooded with three or four different derivatives of it and I have to write them down. Over time, you just have little piles of notes with ideas everywhere. ... I’m my own worst enemy. But I keep on going. I won’t let myself stop.”

Elizabeth Manygoats

Ceramicist from Kayenta, Arizona

Style: traditional

Price range: $30 to $600

As a child growing up near Shonto, Arizona, Elizabeth Manygoats learned by observation, watching her mother, well-known Navajo folk artist and potter Betty Manygoats, ply her craft. While still a young girl, Elizabeth Manygoats’ desire was to become a highly skilled potter. Manygoats creates pieces that range in size from miniatures to 13-inch-tall decorated pots. She makes traditional forms such as wedding vases, stew pots, and bowls, as well as figurative pieces. She continues her time-honored family tradition of using a corncob to even out the clay and remove the excess. She decorates her pottery with past and present scenes of daily life on the Navajo Reservation. “The dog you will see on my pottery is based on my own pet,” she said. Invited by the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Manygoats on her process and techniques: “I am forbidden to disclose the location of where we obtain the clay — it is classified information. A smooth stone is used as a burnisher. Once the pot is smooth and dry, it is ready to be fired. Cedarwood and sometimes cow manure is used to fire them. The firing technique is done outside in a shallow pit. When the firing is complete, the final step is to pitch the pot with refined piñon pitch. The whole process of making a pot takes several days to complete.”

Marie Romero Cash

Sculptor from Santa Fe

Style: innovative

Price range: $250 to $10,000

The only Santa Fe artist participating in IFAM, Marie Romero Cash takes the traditional art of the santero, or saint maker, and imbues it with a contemporary feel. Born to notable tinwork artists Senaida and Emilio Romero, Cash is an authority on the saint-making tradition and is the author of several books on subjects that include the art of the santero and historic churches of Northern New Mexico. She renders her bultos (or sculpture in the round) with uncharacteristically vibrant colors, injecting her figures with a hopeful feeling that’s at odds with the often dour expressions and muted color tones of her forebears’ work. Her commissions include the Stations of the Cross for the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe and the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque. In 1992, she was presented with a Masters Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. Invited by the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art

Romero Cash on being a longtime exhibitor at the annual Spanish Market: “I’ve been showing my work at Spanish Market for 45 years, but I show under the innovations category. One of the things I often hear when people get to my booth is ‘Finally, something different.’”

Mary Tafoya

Jeweler from Santo Domingo Pueblo

Style: innovative

Price range: $25 to $3,800

Mary Tafoya’s inlay designs evolved from the Depression-era jewelry-making tradition of Santo Domingo Pueblo. Beginning in the 1930s and into the 1950s, jewelers at Santo Domingo were known for their innovative use of materials such as battery casings, old phonograph records, and bone, Tafoya said. She learned inlay techniques from her parents and grandparents. Tafoya’s freeform inlay designs are mosaics made from shell, turquoise, and semi-precious stones. No two pieces are alike and the rich colors of the inlay, she says, often get mistaken for painted designs. She doesn’t sketch out her designs beforehand, preferring to work intuitively. Invited by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Tafoya on what her patrons say of her jewelry: “I find customers and others who say my designs are similar to and look like old Inca and Aztec motifs found in Mexican ruins. I think this is because, in ancient times, there was trading by indigenous people from Mexico to the southwest United States, bringing shells, feathers, and other stones.” ◀